By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 22, the Dexter Dreadnaughts boys lacrosse team (12-5) fell to the Okemos Chieftains (11-8) in a regional semifinal matchup, 11-6.
The Dreadnaughts started slow and made a late comeback but the Chieftains withstood the run to advance to the regional final.
Early on it was all Chieftains. They set the pace while the Dreadnaughts looked out of sorts on both ends of the field.
“Ground balls win games,” said Dreadnaught head coach James Nichols. “They were just winning the groundballs on the wings. I think offensively we played well, defensively we played well. The transition game between the 30- and 30-yard lines, they beat us there and that was the difference in the game.”
Dreadnaught goalkeeper Cooper Howatt kept them in the game early, but the Chieftains would break through with 6:38 in the first quarter. After that, they scored two more including one with under a minute left to take a 3-0 lead.
Continuing to push the envelope and ride their momentum, they added two more goals in the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, the Dreadnaughts showed signs of life.
After a Chieftains penalty, Dreadnaught attacker Dalton Wright got Dexter on the board after making a nice cut to the crease.
Then, 1:11 later, Dreadnaught midfielder Mason Loudermilk scored on an unassisted rocket to make it 5-2.
With 33 seconds left the Dreadnaught defense held strong after a penalty and took the 5-2 deficit into the half.
“We just had to settle down,” said Nichols on the slow start. “The first 18 minutes of the game, we didn’t play our game. Once we settled down and saw it go in the back of the net, we started playing our game. Ultimately they put four quarter together and we didn’t.”
Howatt again started a half with a few solid saves before the Chieftains scored with 8:21 in the third.
Not going down without a fight, the Dreadnaughts responded with back to back goals.
The Chieftains responded with another goal in the final minute of a quarter to keep the deficit at three, 7-4, at the end of the third.
Loudermilk scored his third of the game a few minutes into the fourth quarter off of a nice feed behind the net from Ryan Lotz. After that it was Griffiths scoring another transition goal to cut the Chieftains lead to one, 7-6.
After a Dreadnaught penalty with 7:47 left, the Chieftains scored to boost the lead back up to two before adding three more goals over the last 6:17 to come away with the 11-6 win.
Loudermilk led the Dreadnaughts with three goals, Wright had one, and Griffiths had two. The Chieftains were led by Joey Tracy with three goals. Jack Adair, Brandon Lee, and Vishnu Gundamraj each had two and Dominic Wertz and Mitchell Chermak each added a goal.
“These guys left it all on the field, we never got down on each other,” said Nichols after the game. “We knew it would be a dog fight. I can’t ask for more from these guys. I’ll miss all the seniors, but they left a legacy this season. I firmly believe this is the best lacrosse team in program history. Would’ve loved to have this game back. We have a lot to learn, a lot to improve on but I couldn’t ask for more from these guys. A lot of momentum moving forward.”
The Dreadnaughts finished their season with a 12-5 record and a share of the SEC White title.